27 Aug Sanவாදය – Episode 01
The surge in the spread of Covid-19 in many global regions and countries has become the dominant issue and the World Health Organization (WHO) has warned, the virus will continue to spread rapidly. Meanwhile, the Anti – Covid vaccines serves as the only ray of hope to the millions of people affected globally.
'Vaccination - A Dose of Truth', the first instalment of the series 'Sanவாදය', is an awareness program initiated by the Rotaract District Steering Committee 3220 and hosted by the Rotaract clubs of Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Matale, National School of Business Management and Royal Institute of Colombo. This was held on the 31st of July 2021 via zoom platform and the main intention of this session was to raise awareness on the Covid – 19 vaccination programme. The session was graced by Prof. Enoka Corea who is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine at University of Colombo.
Sanவாදය was moderated by Rtr. Tharushi with the guest speaker sharing insightful answers and opinions. The discussion commenced with Prof. Enoka revealing the ‘Success story of vaccination’. She indicated that vaccines are one of the safest medical inventions that have ever been invented. And its accuracy and safety are tested through conducting Clinical Trials. While indicating this point the guest speaker defined clinical trials as “Testing out the vaccine on a selected group of people for a long period before it is registered and rolled out to the general population.”
Answering the question 'What do we essentially do with vaccination?' raised by the moderator, Prof. Enoka stated that, ‘vaccines mimic the virus or the viral proteins leading to an immune response. The immune response imagines that we have an infection and responds quickly. The booster dose improves the immune response to make it more effective and long-lasting'.
The next question raised by the moderator highlighting the ‘Development of Covid – 19 Vaccines’ is bound to educate our participants significantly while further improving their level of clarity.
Elaborating on the development of vaccines, Prof. Enoka stated that Anti – Covid vaccines were developed promptly because scientists had been working on new types of vaccines for a very long time. Further, she explained once this SARS – CoV 2 (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus - 2) suddenly emerged, they were able to incorporate information into new sorts of development platforms to invent the prototype vaccines very quickly. Professor further explained that the researchers decided to run three phases of clinical trials parallelly. Consequently, the trials were conducted quickly and approved by the WHO.
Spotlighting ‘Safety and Side effects of Covid – 19 vaccines’, Prof. Enoka explained that the safety of Covid vaccines is followed up for a long period for both the vaccinated group and the placebo group (those who are not vaccinated), to measure the rate of infection including side effects or adverse effects. At the end of the clinical trial period, if the scientists found out that the vaccinated group of people significantly have a lower chance of infection than the placebo with fewer side effects, the vaccine is safe.
Furthermore, the professor stated that like any other medicine or vaccine, Covid – 19 vaccines can cause mild side effects such as fever, headache, tiredness. These are not necessarily bad, because they are signs that your immune system has noticed the vaccine and responding to it. In addition, she mentioned that severe long-lasting side effects are extremely rare, and vaccines are continually monitored for safety to detect rare adverse events. “All the anti-Covid vaccines that have been registered by the WHO have an efficacy level of 50% to 98% in preventing severe disease and death and appear to be efficacious against developing the disease” Prof. Enoka added.
The professor also revealed this is considered as the largest vaccination program in world history, where billions of people have received the Anti-Covid vaccines yet in the majority of cases side effects have been extremely mild.
The following inquiries posed by the moderator further clarified the (WHO) approved vaccines against Covid – 19 and the protection people get to cope with the widespread outbreak of the deadly new Coronavirus variants.
When asked 'Why did these virus variants develop?' by the moderator, Prof. Enoka explained that new virus variants are only developed if there is rampant transmission and circulation of the virus in the community. She pointed out how important it is to expand the worldwide vaccination process to reduce Coronavirus circulation, rampant virus replication, and reduce the formation of new deadly Coronavirus variants.
Providing a broad answer to the question, Professor stated that vaccination alone would not stop the rise of new variances. She highlighted that there is a possibility for a person to become infected with the Coronavirus even after receiving the second dose of the vaccine. This is because the vaccines have not had enough time to provide protection, but not because the vaccine is ineffective. Hence, it is important that a person who gets the vaccines continue to take necessary precautions in order to protect everyone in the community as in continuing to keep a safe distance, wearing masks and avoid gatherings.
During the latter part of the discussion, the Q & A session took place offering the opportunity to the audience to clarify their doubts where the professor enlightened the audience with perceptive answers and was able to highlight a number of important points that undoubtedly added much value to the session. Winding up phase 1 of ‘Sanவாදය’ Rtr. Isihini Himansha delivered the vote of thanks.
Creating a wonderful platform to answer the common questions in the mind of the society and also addressing the slightest doubt of individuals, the session was indeed a successful event that raised awareness of the timely concerns of Covid – 19 vaccinations.
Sink in here to witness the first episode of Sanவாදය
Rtr. Ovini Gunatilake
Rtr. Shaheni Fonseka
(Blog Team Member 2021-22)